STORRS – There isn't much difference between the fervant fans of the Yankees, Dallas Cowboys or
And on April 3, 2011, in Indianapolis, the Huskies, who won 36 of their first 37, lost No. 38. It was in the national semifinal against
The disappointment was apparent after the final game of
So, there was renewed purpose in 2011-12 to make amends.
"Of course, the expectation here is to win the national championship, but it's that way every year," coach
With Moore gone, the Huskies had only one true senior, Tiffany Hayes. Classmates
Alongside Hayes was a cast led by junior
UConn won its first nine, a roll highlighted by home victories over Stanford and Texas A&M, the defending national champion, The Huskies had six players reach double- figures in the 81-51 win over the Aggies on Dec. 6, 2011, at the
But then UConn lost 66-61 to No. 1 Baylor in Waco, Texas, blowing a 50-39 second-half lead in the final 15 minutes as 6-8 junior center Brittney Griner had 25 points with nine blocks.
The loss was instructive. UConn faced a lack of post depth caused by Moore's departure. Dolson was being double-teamed, and neither Buck nor freshman Kiah Stokes were ready to help protect her.
More problems arrived with a 74-67 overtime loss at Notre Dame on Jan. 7, when Hayes and Mosqueda-Lewis combined to shoot 4 of 14 while Hartley excelled with 25 points.
UConn would then roll off another 12 straight wins until the next bump in the road, a stunning February loss at Gampel to
Just over a week later in Hartford, the Irish beat UConn 72-59 in the final game of the regular season to drop the Huskies to the No. 2 seed in the
Still, that didn't stop UConn from winning its 18th tournament title with a nine-point win over the Irish in the championship.
UConn was assigned to the NCAA's Kingston (R.I.) region as the No. 1 seed and made its way to a fifth straight Final Four with big wins over Prairie View and Kansas State in Bridgeport and convincing wins over
That catapulted the Huskies to the Final Four in Denver – and a fourth meeting with the Irish in the national semifinals.
And once again, this time in overtime, the Huskies lost 83-75, ending their season at 33-5. The score was tied at 67 after regulation after UConn closed with an 8-2 run fueled by the hustle of Faris, who had a steal and a basket and four free throws in the final 90 seconds.
"For the older players, losing the last two years after getting to the same point makes you come back and promise yourself to buckle down," Hartley said. "You don't want the same thing to happen again.